VeganSmart and John Lewis aka Bad Ass Vegan

VeganSmart is a black-owned company that creates low calorie, all-in-one nutritional protein powders made with all vegan ingredients. The plant-based protein powders are available in vanilla, chocolate, mixed berry and chai and are soy-, gluten-, and dairy- free. 

Here's a little more backstory on VeganSmart: 

VeganSmart's CMO Kareem Cook and CEO Claude Tellis have been entrepreneurs for years trying to change the face of health/wellness. Before creating VeganSmart  Kareem and Claude worked tirelessly to get junk food taken out of Los Angeles School Districts and created a healthy vending machine company as an alternative for the schools. Their passion for wellness successfully got junk foods removed from LAUSD, but their passion didn't stop with the kids. 

From diabetes to hypertension, the African American community is overwhelmed with poor eating choices thus resulting in higher risks of disease and death. Both Kareem and Claude experienced first-hand what the effects of food-related illnesses can have on a family and decided to create something that can make an impact in not only their lives, but in the lives of their community. 

VeganSmart is all about showing that there's more than one way to approach a plant-based lifestyle. Introducing veganism or the transition to veganism as an option through VeganSmart products has had such a positive effect on the way healthier eating patterns are viewed. Through hosting vegan brunches, attending green-focused conventions/expos and making appearances at local events, VeganSmart has shown that being vegan can be cool and isn't as difficult as one may think. 

Here's our interview with Kareem and Claude, the founders of Vegan Smart, as well as John Lewis from Bad Ass Vegan (who is a VeganSmart ambassador).


A) Why the decision to offer a vegan product? What inspired you to create VeganSmart?

Kareem and I both have multiple family members with diabetes and pre-diabetes. Once we did research, we learned that over 80mm people are pre-diabetic. This can be all solved if people eat more fruits, vegetables as well as eating a high protein, low sugar diet.

We therefore decided to offer a vegan product because it is the cleanest way to eat with the lowest amount of sugar. And since our product is less than $3/meal, it's affordable. We are like a Lexus...aspirational, but attainable...

B) What obstacles have you faced during your entrepreneurial journey with VeganSmart?

Everything...raising capital, hiring the right sales people and now marketing. Our current challenge is getting the word out on our product, and engaging the community. We are giving a $10k reward for the funniest/coolest 30 second cell phone video on our product. Please have your readers support us at

C) What advice would you give to black people who are interested in the diet/lifestyle, but think it's a "white person's" thing?

Advice to black people: Diabetes is killing us at a faster pace than gun violence. Eating healthy isn't a white thing, it's the only thing. In the words of Tupac: "Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live,  and change the way we treat each other.The old way wasn't working, so we gotta do what we gotta do to survive!"

Black Vegans Rock also interviewed John Lewis from Bad Ass Vegan. He is an ambassador for the VeganSmart brand. 


(A) Why did you decide to go vegan and what has their vegan journey been like?

I decided to go vegan when my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. After talking to her doctor and doing my own research I learned that  most cancer is related to the ingestion of animal protein and isn't hereditary like what we have been taught in the past, but more of a result of our lifestyle habits. 

(B) How did their friends and family react when they decided to go vegan? 

Oh boy, my friends and family still think I am a tad bit "crazy" and not normal, but I am a firm believer that just because something is "normal" doesn't make it right.  

(C) What advice would they give to black people who are interested in the diet/lifestyle, but think it's a "white person's" thing?

I would tell them that the diseases that are related to eating animal protein doesn't care what color you are. It doesn't care if you are from the suburbs or from the projects. It's not a black or white thing... Cancer never cared what your race was, neither has heart disease or hypertension or the countless other diseases. No one else is responsible for our well being. It's time to take control of our own health.